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What to look for as COVID-19 testing demands rise

Multiple Northeast Ohio libraries have said they're out of free tests and don't know when they will receive a new shipment.

CLEVELAND — When it comes down to COVID testing, there are two different options: PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, which looks for genetic material from the virus. Or the kind you see in take-home kits, called an antigen test. Those are rapid tests that look for proteins from the virus. 

The PCR test is know to be more sensitive and therefore more accurate, according to Cleveland Clinic. 

Testing is recommended before seeing vulnerable people, but what kind of test is the question.

"What's going to satisfy the person as far as the result that they get? Some people would be satisfied with an antigen test, a lower sensitivity, and other people are going to want to have it confirmed by PCR," Dr. Peter Zimmerman, Pathology professor at Case Western Reserve University told us.

With such demand for testing right now, Dr. Zimmerman says we might not even be able to make the choice.

"The question now becomes what's available? And how can you organize to get the test?" Zimmerman said.

We were able to find a take-home test at a local pharmacy. It has step-by-step directions to walk you through the quick process of setup and swabbing.

Then you wait 10 minutes for the result. In the version we used, one blue line means I tested negative. 

With tax, this pack of two tests ran right around 25 dollars.

You can reach out to the local health department to find free options.

A popular free option is the library, but today we've learned many are out including Cleveland, Lorain, Geauga, and Summit and Cuyahoga County locations, with no clear answer on a restock.

If you want a PCR test, you're going to have to find a pharmacy or healthcare provider and make an appointment. You can find out more information below:

MORE: COVID-19 testing: What you need to know about at-home test kits, testing locations

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